AFL Round 2 – Geelong v North Melbourne: The nemesis (or The Thomastown Thorpedo)

Score a footy and Cats gear

Score a footy and Cats gear

Everyone needs a nemesis.

I have one – the Thomastown Thorpedo. For three months, I had christened him the Chinese Thorpedo, until tonight, when matters of alliteration became obvious.

I’ve been swimming laps at the Thomastown pool for months. People don’t swim at Thomastown; they sit in the hydro therapy pool and tell their doctors they’ve been “excercising”. So the pool is free.

I dominate the “fast” lane. Me. Only one man puts me in my place. The Thomastown Thorpedo. I’m not a regular swimmer, but he’s always there. Waiting.

When I arrive, ready to swim, he’s waiting. “I see you.” “I see you too.”

And today, on the morning of Geelong’s Round 2 match, having not swum for a month, and completing the last of my painful laps…there he is.

I’m struggling; 5 metres to go and struggling to make it. Thomastown Thorpedo: laughing. Something he’d heard earlier? I think not.

The nemesis.

Geelong fans have Hawthorn. As importantly, we have two new nemeses in North Melbourne and Fremantle. This is a good thing.

There are 22 rounds and too many games. Geelong opens with Hawthorn. Geelong fans wait for months for the opener. It’s breath taking. We win. Who’s next? Supporters and players are deflated.

When you’re waiting for September, games against the Giants, the Suns and Port Adelaide are deflating.

Games against North Melbourne and Fremantle were. They’re not now. Far from it – they are our nemeses.

Technically, Freo are. I find them unpleasant. They beat us and they enjoy it. There are no handshakes and heart felt “well dones” after the game. Geelong can’t wait to hit the showers and rid themselves of the stink.

North – they beat us too. It’s annoying, but they play the games on their terms. Their plan is to play their game and rejoice in the win; not niggle to the end and hopefully accumulate 4 points after 4 points until the end as the Dockers do. Even in opposition, North are exciting to watch when they’re on (which is usually against us). They are too quick. Happened last year, happened in the first half. Yet, it’s a good thing. Sunday afternoon, 1.10pm, six days after a massive Hawthorn clash – and we’re down by almost 7 goals. It’s irritating, why do we lose to these guys. They can’t beat Collingwood; they get smashed by all the Top 8 teams; but not us. That’s irritating.

I can’t hate them: they look good: they’re slick; they out play us. Their forwards dominate – against All-Australians! You have to respect that.

Tuned in today, Sunday, 1.10pm, Etihad, not Hawthorn, let’s get the four points. There’s an inkling it’s going to be hard. More than an inkling, actually. Round 4 last year was irritating, every time the Cats tried to come back, North would kick away. Not through luck, either, but through game plan and talent. Against the Cats! Irritating.

The Cats had been smashed in the clearances last year. Our coach said not to worry, centre clearances and contested ball weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Which is fine, if you’re winning; but we weren’t – bundled out in the first week of the finals.

And nemesis sides are a funny thing. We can beat Hawthorn; who can’t beat Collingwood; who last year took care of us. North can’t beat Collingwood either; but they can take care of us. I’ve no doubt whoever takes care of the Thomastown Thorpedo would be left in my wake.

They look good in the first half, those North boys. To be fair, they take all of their chances. When they get a break, they find their targets. And when those targets are in their forward line, they extract full value.

It was clever stuff. Three tall forwards led to the right places and the Geelong defenders could not help each other out. Terrific grabs too, to Petrie and Tarrant. Big goals; fantastic stuff.

These blokes were up by 41 points at one stage. They’re young, too. Their vice-captain is Jack Ziebell; young but boy can he can play.

The Cats were smashed in that first half and it made me think. Why are we smashed in the centre? Why can’t we get our hands on it? How hard can it be?

It also made me think how relatively easy Chris Scott has it on game day. No doubt he puts in a lot of work during the week but on game day he must enter the rooms at half time and say: “Are you blokes going to pull your finger out or not?”

(With all due respect, at half time I had to change a nappy that was 50 shades of awful and that had to be worse than whatever Scott was going through.)

Scott’s ploy works, for the second game in a row.

To come back from 7 goals against a time honoured (established 2012) foe was a tremendous effort. The work of Allen Christensen and Steven Motlop was stunning. Stunning in part because whenever a young indigenous player is drafted it is always mentioned they will play from the forward pocket. I think the same thing was said of Travis Varcoe. The three are fast, skilful midfielders with an enormous appetite for the contest. Their ability to create plenty from nothing is a joy to watch. It bodes well for the future.

At times I thought they should move certain triple premiership players on to give the young blokes the complete run of the ball. That was until the contest became tight and the conditions wet in the last quarter.

When there was less than a kick in it in the last 20 minutes, I was thrilled that Joel Corey, James Kelly and Corey Enright had hold of the ball. It was reassuring. I can’t have been the only fan that enjoyed the rain in the last quarter and the wet weather skills. Funny to see Kangaroos coach Brad Scott complain to the stadium owner about the open roof at the end. Not that it had an effect on the game, he said. So why complain?

The Cats are 2-0 with Carlton next week. Carlton just got done by Collingwood. Are we Carlton’s nemesis? Surely not, they have a few. Hopefully they won’t get up  for the game as 3-0 would be nice.

GEELONG                                4.0       6.4       13.8     16.16 (112)
NORTH MELBOURNE            7.1       12.3     15.5     17.6 (108)

Christensen 3, Hawkins 3, Chapman 2, Motlop 2, Selwood, Podsiadly, Lonergan, Duncan, Caddy, Bartel
North Melbourne: Thomas 5, Petrie 4, Tarrant 2, Bastinac, Mullett, Atley, Anthony, Adams, Wells

 Selwood, Christensen, Enright, Chapman, Kelly
North Melbourne:  Swallow, Bastinac, Grima, Thomas, Petrie, Ziebell,

Umpires: Stevic, Nicholls, Findlay

Official crowd: 34,152 at Etihad Stadium

Our votes: 3. Selwood; 2. Christensen; 1. Swallow

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety


  1. Richard Naco says

    Another excellent summary of a Geelong game, Cookie.

    I was utterly rapt to see Bundy prove to be the rock upon which Geelong based yet another legendary Lazarine victory. Since Max and the Paddlepop Lion both stopped running around in the Blessed Hoops, he and Harry Taylor (the thinking footballer’s thinking footballer) have become my fave Cats. With Bundy, it started with his explanation of why his being robbed of a rightfully earnt Rising Star nomination in 2011 didn’t upset him (and that’s my summation of the situation, not his) when he said: “It’s only an award. I get to play for Geelong.”

    I predicted to JTH while picking up my copy of the 2011 Almanac that Bundy will win a Brownlow one day, and his development since then has only reinforced that view. His own mindset is revealed in a very balanced, intelligent and witty post game interview now available on the ABC Grandstand site, and it is abundantly (sorry about the pun) clear that he intends to play a significant role in the inevitable triumph of the AFL’s apex predators in this, our traditional odd numbered year ambush of the ultimate football triumph.

    He is a brave, bold and exciting young player who is totally devoted to the Geelong Football Club, and as a fan it is a privilege to have booked my seat on the Bundy band wagon from the very get-go.

  2. Richard Naco says

    I neglected to say that I too have nothing but respect and affection for the Kangas.

    They also play the game as it should be played, and to lose to them is to know that the opposition team has played a better brand of pure footy than we did on the day.

    Like you, I have never felt that for Freo. Only an urgent craving for antiseptic cream, and a tetanus jab for good measure.

  3. Skip of Skipton says

    Carlton have upset us a few times recently. Hopefully we jump out of the blocks like Overreach next week. The Thomastown Torpedo sounds like a once-off Seinfeld character.

  4. Yes, you’ve found your answer Cookie. You need to bring a 3rd element in the equation. Find someone to beat the Torpedo and the way these nemesis things work, you’re a shoe in to beat them.

  5. Cookie – I was listening to bit and pieces of the game on the radio. There were patches in the commentary where I wandered if the Cats were even on the field. Extraordinary stuff.

    Do the Cats have a slow start habit, or are they just masters of tempo footy; playing at a tempo that sees them through all four quarters?

  6. Cookie. With the way the Cats were playing I contemplated a nappy change at half time too, but settled for a beer.

    Not sure if North are our nemesis, but gee they seem to lift when they play us don’t they. They might have done us a bit of a favour in that R5 game at Kardinia Park in 2007 though. We had a good hard look at ourselves after that loss and it turned the whole club around. Now we need to do a bit of thinking about how not to give big leads away early. Let’s see what happens against the Blues.

    A question though. Why was North in its complete home strip and Geelong in its complete away strip for a Geelong home game? Who decides these things? Just wondering.

  7. Go Geelong!

  8. Interesting point Burkie re these away strips. How many away strips do each club have ?
    I must prefered when your club colurs were, and stayed the same all weeks of the year..
    Thus i suppose the old days of home and away shorts, aren’t the marketing bonanza, the range of jumpers are.


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